So more people will discover your content.
So the right people will discover your content.
That’s right, using hashtags on your Instagram posts and stories will get your content in front of people who don’t already follow you! (psstt..this is basically how Twitter works, too. In case you were wondering).
For example, I recently noticed that on our brand new @healthyworkhq Instagram account, that 52% of people who saw this post weren’t following us. You can actually see this percentage and how many impressions came from hashtags via the native Insights on your business Instagram account.
Similarly on my @nutritionwithdanielle account, 47% came from hashtags on this post. #Goals
This is because Instagram users now have the ability to follow hashtags (sound familiar, Twitter?) and because hashtagged content (photos, videos, etc.) shows up on Instagram’s Explore page, a uniquely curated page with tons of suggestions of similar content that you might like, but don’t already follow. My personal Explore page is usually a combo of posts related to food, wellness, cats, Taylor Swift, or Taylor Swift’s cats. #InstagramGetsMe
How likely a hashtag is to be seen by others depends on how often the hashtag is used, how popular your post is, and how strong your following is.
So how do you use Instagram hashtags effectively?
I’ve often asked myself this question because Instagram, like the rest of social media, changes all of the time. What worked five years ago, doesn’t work now. Heck, what's trending can change daily.
That said, here are some tried-and-true hashtag best practices you should know about.
A lot of people use hashtags in their posts but forget that they can be just as effective in their stories and bio. Instagram Stories operate on a different algorithm, and many people currently find that more people see and engage with their stories compared to their post feeds. So send people to your Stories often!
The more specific the hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be. A targeted audience means a better chance of engagement. In the Healthy Work Community, Jamie Weisman, CNS mentioned she’s personally noticed that health & wellness hashtags with over 15-20M posts get lost, so she tries to use ones that are in the range of 10M or less.
So let’s say you’re a nutritionist who works with breastfeeding mothers. You might want to include some popular mom hashtags with your post (#mom, #breastfeeding, #momsofInstagram, #postpartum, etc.), but you’ll also want to use specific health & wellness hashtags that really hone in on your audience (so maybe, #breastfeedingmom, #breastfeedinginpublic, #postpartumbody, #postpartumjourney, etc.).
Keep lists of your favorite and most relevant wellness hashtags on a note in your phone so that all you have to do is copy/paste when you’re ready to schedule or post content. I keep mine in SimpleNote. Don’t have any lists yet? Healthy Work Community, Download this super-handy Hashtags for Wellness Entrepreneurs Master List I’ve compiled by category to get started.
Rotating different hashtags across different posts and experimenting with hashtag volumes are some of the most recommended best practices to date. This is largely because the Instagram algorithm does not like repeated content.
Like I mentioned above, Instagram makes this super easy via Insights in the native app. You just need to have a business account to get access to Insights. You can switch your personal account to a business one anytime like this. Once you have a business account you can access info about hashtag impressions by following these steps:
Under Impressions, you’ll see ‘From Hashtags’ which tells you how many people found your post through the hashtags you used. Score!
It’s important to note this this hashtag metric is aggregate -- Instagram does not track the performance of each hashtag. More advanced analytics tools (like this one or this one) can do this for you, which is super handy but not a must-have for a small business owner, in my opinion.
I think this is the easiest way to do it, & it makes for nice, clean post description copy. #Love
This means it’s important to research and interact with the hashtags you use from time to time. Make sure you know what a given hashtag is commonly used for and double check what types of content are associated with it. Spend some time researching health & wellness hashtags you think could be relevant to see which ones are most specific to your audience and already have an engaged community behind them.
Did you know 70% of hashtags on Instagram are branded? Coming up with your own branded hashtag can propel virality if used consistently & strategically. If you do create a branded hashtag, be sure to follow it so you can keep track of how it’s being used & engage with people who are using it.
Like the wellness industry, the Instagram landscape changes all of the time, so it’s important to keep up. Stay in the know by paying attention to how influencers and wellness industry leaders are using the platform, what content is performing the best, what's trending, and find about formal changes here.
This is a common question with no clear, agreed upon answer. Some experts teach that less is more, while others say go for the whole 30 (not the diet, the max number allowed per post). According to an analysis by TrackMaven, photos with 9 hashtags receive the most engagement. I recently interviewed Abra Pappa, CNS on The Healthy Work Podcast and she said the ideal number of hashtags per post for her is, well, you’ll just have to listen, here. ;) You'll love her pro tips for wellness entrepreneurs.
A few years ago, before you could neatly hide hashtags in your post description or comments, I would have recommended to use less (maybe 3-5?) to avoid looking overly spammy. But now I tend to use more since it doesn’t visually impact my post. Bottom line: it’s less about the exact number and more about the quality and relevance of the health & wellness hashtags you choose. Pay attention to which hashtags your target audience uses. Experiment experiment experiment. Track track track.
To get you started, I’ve created this handy Instagram Hashtags for Wellness Entrepreneurs Master List that you can download for free. 🙌Happy hashtagging!
Danielle Reynolds-Flatt is a nutritionist, entrepreneur, marketing nerd, and cat lady.